VMworld Day 1

Sunday, August 30th was my first day at VMworld 2015.  So far it contained the following:

  1. Over 10 miles of walking/running
  2. Playing dodge ball to raise money for the Wounded Warriors charity
  3. Checking in to conference and collecting conference material
  4. Attending Opening Acts 2015 via #VMunderground group
  5. Talking with a lot of community friends at opening
  6. Attending VMunderground party


The two things that stuck with me the most from my day 1:

  1. Storage specialists confirmed my thoughts that applications who have their own replication mechanism (such as MS SQL Availability Groups) are both more efficient and reliable than using any type of storage replication
  2. This community rocks in its support for each other.

Keeping Good Employees

Over the past +21 plus years of working in IT I’ve worked for six different companies.  I’ve worked on some great teams and those that really need some help.  A few times both of these occurred at the same company over time.  The thing I’ve noticed is there’s usually a change that drives away the really good employees and the replacements often are not as good as those they replaced (maybe that’s just my perception though).  That change can be hard to define before it’s too late and most or all of the great workers are gone, resulting in lower output and customer satisfaction.

Why do good employees leave?  There’s numerous reasons for this and the following is a list of them that I’ve seen first hand.

  • Overworked
  • No upward movement within company (promotions)
  • Talked down to
  • Lack of culture
  • Lack of trust
  • Not competitive in pay and/or overpaying those who don’t deserve it
  • Lack of training

I currently work at a larger company, which I won’t name, that has both reputations of being a great place to work and a bad place to work. In the past I worked within one division that developed software. My manager was always challenging me with “what would it take to…” questions and I was expected to research, architect, test and then report back with a solution. I was EXPECTED to go out and learn about all new technologies (on company time) in order to complete these challenges. It was great. Yes, I also had to “keep the lights on” and upgrade/patch the existing solutions we had in place as well.

I now work within Enterprise IT and for most managers and staff it’s the complete opposite.  People request training and most of the time it’s met with a NO.  Sometimes we get to go but that’s only if it’s budgeted into a current project. I’m one of the few going to vendor events, training classes, and getting involved with vendor programs, such as #vExpert and #PernixPro   When I work on projects I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “no ones told me how to do that” when I ask if a task has been completed. This includes things as simple as installing and configuring DHCP on Windows Server 2008 R2.

I’ve only missed one year since 2007 for a specific conference and the one request I had when moving to EIT was that I get to keep going.  I was told that would be OK and I didn’t think anything else about it. Two weeks before registration opened I submitted my official request, which was approved right away. I registered the first day it was open, picked my hotel, and booked flights. Six weeks later I learned 5 others within my area will be attending as well, 4 for the first time.  I was excited that my company was investing in these people.  This would help us tremendously as I keep hearing how we want to change the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality and we’re usually 5 years behind in basic technologies.

Four days before the conference the “bad place to work” rears its ugly head again. I was told cutbacks need to be made and one person would not be going to the conference in order to save travel dollars.  I was assured it wasn’t me as I was the first one approved. I checked with my boss the next couple days and was told no one was being held back and we’re all going.

Then the bomb drops.  Noon on Friday (less than 24 hours before most were to leave) management decided one person wouldn’t go after all. I was not the chosen one as suspected earlier in the week. I thought it was crappy to do this so close to the conference. Then the second bomb. One hour later the CIO states that no one can go. WHAT THE HELL!!!

After some digging we found out that only travel is being pulled as there was no way to get conference fees back. After hours of talks I was told that is the final decision from the CIO.  My boss really believes in training and told me to find a way to get flights paid for, if I could.  I wouldn’t be able to fill out an expense report for any costs acquired for the week. Luckily for me the community in which I’m heavily involved came to my rescue so I’m writing this post from the conference.

But back to the topic of this post. Over the past +21 years I have had training pulled from me that I already had scheduled and booked.  I understand this happens and I’m OK with it so long as it’s not 24 hours before the conference, or even 72 hours.  It shows a lack of vision, planning, and investment in your employees by management  If I had a week to figure out how to get my flights and hotel paid for I could have easily done so. I could have acqured the same for a couple others as well.  Getting it done within 4 hours on a Friday afternoon though? That is a completely different story.

This also has me thinking about the company I work for.  I keep hearing about how they can’t get/keep good employees and they “don’t know why.”  Well, here’s one example.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Over they years I’ve been commended for being able to explain technologies to system administrators, managers, and end users with terms and examples that allowed them understand the technology.  Because of this a friend tried numerous times over a three-year period to get me work for him as a technical pre-sales solutions architect.  For multiple reasons I kept saying no but after some changes in my own life and at the company I decided to take on this new challenge.

At first it was great. I love meeting new people, talking with system administrators at different companies and designing simple up to complex solutions to meet their needs.  It was great walking out of meetings and people saying how much they learned from me.

After about a year I wasn’t very happy and it was getting worse every month.  I was working twice as many hours as I was at my previous job and only make 20% more. The additional income was in the form of bonues so they were taxed higher and the “additional pay” put me in a higher tax bracket.  Taking my previous pay rate versus my new one, I was losing money.

Management structure changed and the amount of FUD going around in sales training meetings drove me nuts.  It’s so hard to sit back and listen to blatant lies in these meetings.  I never wanted any of this info to be spewed to customers but it sometimes did.  I guess the small-town values my family instilled in me while growing up are too hard to ignore.

The peer-pressure driven sales environment I was in was wearing very heavily on me.  Way worse than the money issue, my health was at risk.  It was time to go.

I know all the culture at all companies are different and all companies are out to make money.  At some point I had to acknowledge that I’ve made a bad decision and move on. It was hard to do as I like so many people I worked with.

I’m currently working at a spot where I have a less than desirable amount of hands-on work.  I’m enjoying it though and will keep an eye out for the next challenge.  We must learn from them, acknowledge them and keep moving forward.

vExpert 2015 Selections Announced

Today the vExperts for 2015 were announced via the VMTN blogs here. I’m proud to be selected for the third time and was excited to see some newcomers who are doing great things within the community.

For those of you who don’t know what a vExpert is please know that this is not a certification.  It is an award for those who promote VMware products and services within the community.  This can be within user groups, blog posts, podcast, customer workshops, etc…

The number of vExperts is getting larger and larger each year.   This is a good thing as is shows how far reaching VMware products have grown.  It’s not just GSX server anymore.  There’s so many products that users can focus on that there needed to be recognition within each and all of those areas.

Once again I’d like to say congratulations to all of those who received the award in 2015.  Keep up the great work.

Citrix Summit Day 1 Thoughts

I’m in Las Vegas this week for Citrix Summit and there’s been some very nice announcements, failed live demos (happens to us all), freezing cold rooms, great lunch, and a lack of pop/tea for those of us who don’t drink coffee.  Overall all it’s been a good conference so far.

Some of the announcements that caught my eye are:

  1. XenServer 6.5 release fixes Dynamic Memory issues on desktops within XenServer while using NVIDIA grid cards.
  2. Citrix Workspace Services is now Citrix Workspace Cloud.
  3. “Ultra-Converged” term coined.  Same as Hyper-converged but GPU added to the stack.
  4. Workspace Pod announced.  Basically the EVO:RAIL for Citrix but also includes networking.  Two providers, HP and dataON.
  5. It’s the Year Of The VDI, 6th year running. That’s an inside joke but heard this in different terms multiple times.
  6. New StoreFront is customizable by the end use.  This was really cool.
  7. Desktop Player for Windows.
  8. Full Linux desktops, and they performed very well.
  9. XenMobile 10 announced.
  10. “There’s the boss and then there’s the She-E-O.”
  11. Citrix acquires Sanbolic for storage virtualization – http://www.citrix.com/news/announcements/jan-2015/citrix-acquires-sanbolic.html
  12. X1 Prototype Mouse – Bluetooth connected mouse for use with new R1 Citrix Receiver on iPad/iPhone.  Works as standard BT mouse on PC though.
  13. Citrix NetScaler ADC’s rock!!! Better performance and scaling than F5.

There’s more but this is what really caught my eye.

Sending Multiple Variables to a VCO Workflow

I don’t consider myself to be a great scripter but I’m really good at searching Google and piecing together what I need.  Lately I’ve been working on a vCenter Orchestrator workflow that called via a PowerShell script within another application. This is pretty easy to do for static workflows but gets more complicated when needing to pass variables. I found a great example here for passing a single variable but couldn’t get multiple variables to be passed and was unable to find a working solution.

After some test, trial-and-error, and then thinking about it a few minutes I realized I wasn’t initializing each new row of the array with the “New-Object -TypeName VCO.WorkflowTokenAttribute” line for each variable and thought I’d put this out there for anyone else who may be trying to figure this out.

$vcoVariable += New-Object -TypeName VCO.WorkflowTokenAttribute
$vcoVariable[0].name = "memoryCount"
$vcoVariable[0].type = "number"
$vcoVariable[0].value = "8"

$vcoVariable += New-Object -TypeName VCO.WorkflowTokenAttribute
$vcoVariable[1].name = "cpuCount"
$vcoVariable[1].type = "number"
$vcoVariable[1].value = "2"

I’ve now used this in multiple PowerShell scripts to pass variables to VCO workflows. The primary roll of the vCO workflows call Blueprints within vRealize Automation.

vExpert 2014 Awards

First off I’d like to state how extremely blessed I feel to have been chosen as a VMware vExpert for 2014. This is my second year receiving the award and I feel I could have received it another year or two but I honestly didn’t know about the program until I became deeply involved within the Kansas City VMware User Group.  The program is awesome as it recognizes people who share their VMware related knowledge with others in the community.  For those who don’t know about it the vExpert Award program is comparable to those of other companies such as EMC Elect and Microsoft MVP.  Check out the full list here to see if anyone else you know may be on it.

I’ve heard a lot of complaining the last couple years about the number of vExpert awardees and how this is undervaluing the award.  I’m not one for giving every kid who plays sports a medal but I feel this is a selfish view and all you’re wanting to do is get credit without getting a certification to separate yourself from the rest of the VMware community.  If you want bragging points then please go out and get your VCAP or VCDX.  This award is for SHARING knowledge.  It’s not given to everyone as I personally know a couple people who’ve applied and not gotten it.  I also know people who deserve it and do not apply.

Let’s take a look at the numbers I was able to find via @Cmegroz and other sources:

VCA: 41,378
VCP: 162,141
VCAP: 3,077
vExpert: 767
VCDX: 134

I personally don’t feel these numbers are out of line.  I know more vExperts will be added to the program this year but it still isn’t an absorbent number.

I do have a major beef with some of the awardees thinking VMware must give them licenses to ALL products within their catalog and should do it right now.  Some complain that they can’t be a great spokesperson for VMware without them.  My question to you is how did you get to this point without it???  I know you all crave for more VMware knowledge but there are ways to do it without complaining incessantly to the vExpert crew about it.

I for one am very appreciative of all the vendors who do give vExperts special perks, such as free training at Pluralsight, HP StoreVirtual VSA license, Login VSI, Veeam, and many moore.  I just don’t get how some people are complaining.

OK, stepping off my soapbox…

I’d like to thank John Troyer, Corey Romero, and everyone else who makes the vExpert program such a success!!! I can’t wait to see all of you at VMUG events and VMworld.

Citrix Visio Stencil Set



In my new job I create a lot of Visio diagrams.  Here’s a link to a Citrix stencil set that will help you with any Visio diagram where you need NetScaler’s, different server roles, or any Xen products.CtxVisSten

Get the latest stencil set here.

2014 vExpert Applications

Applications for the 2014 vExpert awards are now being accepted.  Most people know what this is but if you don’t it is recognition by VMware for the work people have done within the VMware community.  This could be blogging, presenting, training, coming up with new ways to use their technology.

A few people have complained that the award is watered down now that the number of recipients have grown to over 500 and it’s not worth applying for.  I disagree with this for multiple reasons.  The VMware portfolio has grown and the recipient list should grow with it.  Also, a lot of people didn’t even know about the program until recent years, myself included.  I had no idea what it was even though I was doing enough to earn the award already.  I finally found out what it was once I got more involved with the Kansas City VMware User Group.  All of the leaders were vExperts and a couple others who attended were as well.  I finally had to ask and decided to apply.

Receiving the award isn’t about the benefits, it’s about what you do for the community.  The benefits don’t hurt though, especially if you have a home lab and no “access” to license keys for it.  Yeah, there are cool glasses, Raspberry Pi’s, shirts, etc… provided by hardware and software vendors but getting license keys to run the latest releases in my lab is so helpful.  You also get the opportunity to see some of what will be released and sometimes even participate in a beta release.

For all of you who think you can’t be a vExpert, you never will if you don’t apply.

Read more about the process and apply here.

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